Saturday Morning Update: Below I’d written about indie journalist Matt H., of Stopmotionsolo who was livestreamning yesterday’s #idleNoMoreRally. Here’s his comprehensive report on the demo, with good pictures and video, including a brief interview he did with me. Viewing that footage, which can be viewed via this link, I realize now how cold I had become after hours outside, as my speaking on camera seems to have been slurred by my cold lips.
A hunger strike in Canada by First Nations leader Chief Theresa Spence in Attawapiskat, a scandalously impoverished native village in far northern Ontario began 18 days ago, but the issues of indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental justice that it’s stirring up are now spreading throughout the continent, and across the continental border, into New York City where I live. This afternoon I participated in a rally organized by native Americans of NY State in support of and in solidarity with Chief Spence. As shown in the photos below, they brought placards proclaiming their support for her, and for her opposition to the onerous new Canadian law, Bill C-45. It was promoted by the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and passed by the Canadian senate on December 14. A few days earlier Chief Spence began her hunger strike and asked Harper to meet with her and other First Nations leaders before the law is implemented. She is determined to explain her objections to the law and talk with him directly about the issues currently facing her people and many native groups. He has refused thus far and his government ministers have mostly been trying to ignore her. The rising crescendo of vigorous protests all across Canada, and in NYC today, are being mounted daily to show Harper he cannot hide from this selfless leader. Here is an up-to-the-moment report on Day 18 of her hunger strike at a link from CTV.
For about an hour in today’s freezing temperatures amid bright cold sunshine the spirited crowd of well over 100 people chanted, struck drums, sang, and danced in a circle around the central fountain in the center of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. During the rally I met a young journalist who was livestreaming the event. He interviewed me briefly, giving me the chance to tell him how the opposition to Bill C-45 had been building in Canada for months, and that it has now found a powerful catalyst in Chief Spence and her hunger strike. This indie journalist goes by the handle Mr Solo; streams at www.stopmotionsolo.tv; and tweets at @Stopmotionsolo. He gave his audience my name and that of this blog, so I hope that his viewers will find this post through the Internet and social networking. I also made audio and video of the demo, and will try to get some of that up as soon as I’m able.
I hope you can catch the spirit of the event from my pictures and a scan of the flyer handed out during the rally. To amplify all this, if you’re on Twitter please note that the hashtag #IdleNoMore has been trending all over North America this week, so please use it if you tweet on this topic. I also met Kevin Tarrant, Deputy Director of American Indian Community House in NYC. I told him that I thought he and his group had done a great job of representing the issues from Canada, right down to the copy on their signs, not typical in a demonstration crossing borders like this one. He explained that they had read carefully on the Idle No More website and taken their cues from it. But of course, Kevin and his group really have no border separating them from Chief Spence, with whom they share bond and blood. He was pleased when I told him and a few of his fellow drummers and chanters that word of the rally was already traveling across the continent as I’d tweeted during the demo to an activist friend in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cameron Bode, known on Twitter as @vanboders. Here are Idle No More’s social addresses and connections: